Some of the reasons that helped trigger and continue to fuel lawlessness in Somalia are hardly invoked. Illegal fishing in its waters is done with impunity and at industrial scale. That is an excuse Somali pirates fall back to when trying to justify their attacks on shipping lanes.
But for years, another low-key, more sinister, incident was taking place on Somalia’s shoreline; it had been turned into a massive dumping ground for all sorts of industrial waste. Some fear that discarded radioactive materials lie on the bottom of its waters.
It was cheaper to bribe the myriad of clan-based Somali warlords to look the other way as cargo ships discharged their deadly cargo into the water than using other conventional but more expensive means.
Dumping in Somalia is not an isolated incident; the whole of Africa has been turned into a huge dump site for used or unwanted products, especially from the western world; clothes, cars and their parts, furniture, home appliances, to name but a few.
In the Africa Green Growth Forum that has just concluded in Kigali, one of those unseen pollutants being dumped on the continent – hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – arrives inside used refrigerators and old air conditioners.
HFCs are estimated to be thousands of times more harmful than carbon dioxide that has been the main cause of global warming.
Incidentally in 2016, in Kigali, 197 parties adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to limit the rise in global temperature to below 2oC and gradually scale down the use and production of HFCs.
The Kigali amendment enters into force in January 2019 and we should – to justify the name – be at the forefront of doing away with all those HFC-guzzling fridges and air conditioners, though expect it to come at a price.